Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Syama Sastri are regarded as the carnatic music Trinity. All three of them were born in Thiruvarur, and were carnatic music composers, but their music, lyrics and favourite God were distinctively different. Saint Thyagaraja (let me call him Thyagu in this post) in particular, wrote about, sang and worshipped Lord Rama in telugu. They say that out of 24,000 songs said to have been composed by him in his lifetime, only about 700 songs remain now.
In order to pay respects to the genius works of Saint Thyagaraja, the Thyagaraja Aradhana festival is held at Thiruvaiyyaru. On the day of bahula panchami (the day when he left his mortal self), musicians from all over sing/play the Pancharatna krithis in unison.
The event starts with a prayer to Lord Ganesha, Sriganapathi nee sevimparare in Sourashtram, followed by a song for the teacher Gurulekha etuvanti in Gowri Manohari.
Then ensues the pancharathnas, also known as the gana raga pancharatnas. Thyagu wrote them in nattai, gowlai, arabhi, varali and sree ragas. They are:
Jagadhanandha karaka – Hail the one who brings happiness to this world
Dhudugugala nanne – Rama, please save me from my sins and arrogance
Sadhinchane o manasa – I achieved, O mind!
Kana kana ruchira – It is an endless pleasure to see you
Endaro mahanubavulu – A salute to all the great people out there!
This is generally followed by individual song offerings of musicians showcasing their talent.
Finally, we conclude by singing a Thyagaraja’s song on Lord Hanuman, a fellow worshipper of Ram, and then the mangalam.
As it was not feasible for every musician in the world to both go and sing at the same venue on the same day, and still out of love for Thyagu’s music, people from various regions started conducting their own aradhanas for Thyagu, preferably around the same period. To name a few – Cleveland Aradhana, Stree Thyagaraja Pancharatnam, Chennaiyil Thiruvaiyyaru and every sabha conducting one on its own.
And also Local!
That is how we also started. When we were out of Chennai, and not connected to the musical frenzy here, we decided to call friends who share the same interest and sit at home and sing. This started happening every year and we started getting audience as well. But when we moved to a town (more like a big village) and conducted the aradhana there, more than half the locality turned up for the performance, in a place where I had thought none really cared about carnatic music. And thus we are back here continuing tradition for the past 17 years and all set to perform this year, this weekend. Fingers crossed.
Endaro mahanubavulu; anthariki vandhanamu _/_
- Until next,